Excitement in Congress over the condition of the farmer perennially arouses curiosity among citizens who depend on the farmer for food. "How," asked the man-at-the-lunch-counter last week, "is the farmer really fixed? What is the Government doing, or not doing, for him?"
There being no such, thing as a typical farmer; the distances and facilities between farms and markets being so various; the judgment of individuals—and the farmer remains a landmark of Individual-ism—running the scale it does, the first question of the man-at-the-lunch-counter is impossible to answer irrefutably. Some farmers drive Packards. Others ride mules. Some have radios. Others wear patched pants.
Agriculture is now seeking Federal aid in its marketing. Aid in producing has been furnished by the Government since 1921 when post-War deflation hit the farms. The Government has aided as follows:
1) By the twelve Federal land banks. The U. S. started these banks off with $750,000 capital each. They can loan money to help farmers to buy land; to purchase equipment, fertilizer, seed, livestock; to build buildings; to liquidate mortgages. Interest may not exceed 6%. Loans up to $25,000 are given on 50% of the appraised value of land and 20% of permanent improvements. Borrowers have to join local National Farm Loan Associations, buying stock in the banks equivalent to 5% of their loans. In this way, the U. S. has received most of its capital back and the Land Banks' capital has increased automatically.
From 1921 to April 30, 1928, the Land Banks made 335,000 loans to farmers, aggregating $1,118,000,000.
2) By joint-stock land banks. These are private enterprises, similar to the Federal Land Banks, slightly more restricted in power, chartered by the Federal Farm Loan Board.
From 1921 to April 30, 1918, the 50 joint-stock land banks closed 113,000 loans, aggregating $772,000,000.
3) By the twelve Federal Intermediate Credit Banks. These, established in 1923, capitalized for $5,000,000 each by the U. S., perform rediscounting services for the farmers. Since 1923, their rediscounts have been some $425,000,000, with renewals of $230,000,000.
On April 30, 1928, the cash and credit actually being used by farmers through these Federal agencies totalled $1,863,691,000.
The above figures reflect no particle of what the Government has done in the way of bolstering foreign credits to improve the U. S. farmer's foreign markets.